Nic Brunsdon creates inflatable sphere for National Gallery of Victoria

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Australian architect Nic Brunsdon has created a giant sphere that inflates and deflates throughout the day for this year’s National Gallery of Victoria Architecture Commission in Melbourne.

Called (This is) Air, the project is designed by Perth-based Brunsdon in collaboration with technology company Eness to mimic the natural rhythm of breathing.

The spherical structure stands over 14 metres tall in the garden of National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) when fully inflated, then releases gusts of air to allow itself to be morphed into various shapes.

(This is) Air is the National Gallery of Victoria Architecture Commission for 2023

The structure repeats this “breathing” cycle throughout the day, with each one running for 15 minutes.

Brunsdon’s idea for the project was conceived during the global pandemic when the air we breathe became the agent that transmitted the Covid-19 virus.

“I want to reflect the collective memory about air and its role in our lives,” Brunsdon told Dezeen. “I want to say something universal but highly specific.”

The fully inflated sphere is over 14 metres tall. Photo by Tim Carrafa

The project aims to invite visitors to consider humanity’s connection to and dependency on air, by making it seen, heard and felt in a physical form.

“A sphere is a universal object and shape, it felt right in the space which is geometric and sharp, it’s one surface, one volume and one structure,” said Brunsdon.


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“I want to celebrate the purity, simplicity and boldness of its form,” he continued.

The sphere is also intended to evoke a sense of confidence and optimism when fully inflated and sadness when deflated, which Brunsdon said is more expressive than a static form.

When deflated, the spherical structure morphs into various shapes

“Taking the form of a giant inflatable sphere, this living structure inhales and exhales before our eyes, giving presence to that omnipresent yet invisible element that connects us all,” said NGV senior curator Ewan McEoin.

“Air can be understood as part of our global economic, social and ecological realities. And yet, the quality of air we breathe varies depending on where and how we live. Air is universal, yet clean air is not,” he added.

The structure is intended for people to reconsider the relationship with air

(This is) Air will be the location for a series of public programs and performances in the NGV Garden throughout the Australian summer months.

It is the eighth installation created for the NGV Architecture Commission, an annual pavilion series that began in 2016. Previous designs include Edition Office’s In Absence pavilion in 2020 and Temple of Boom by Adam Newman and Kelvin Tsang in 2022.

The photography is by Ben Hosking unless stated otherwise.

(This is) Air is on display at NGV in Melbourne from 3 December 2023 until June 2024. For an up-to-date list of architecture and design events, visit Dezeen Events Guide.

The post Nic Brunsdon creates inflatable sphere for National Gallery of Victoria appeared first on Dezeen.

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